Marlboro County, SC – South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster suspended the Marlboro County sheriff on Tuesday after the sheriff and a former deputy were charged with “assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature” against an inmate at the county jail.
Officials said that Marlboro County Sheriff Charles Lemon and former Marlboro County Sheriff’s Deputy David Andrew Cook unlawfully deployed a Taser on an inmate at the Marlboro County Detention Center, WBTW reported.
The incident occurred on May 3, 2020 when Sheriff Lemon allegedly ordered then-Deputy Cook to deploy a Taser to subdue Jarrel Lee Johnson inside the jail, The State reported.
The indictments said that Deputy Cook deployed the Taser at Johnson and prongs went into his chest and leg.
Then Deputy Cook allegedly unlawfully continued to activate the Taser at least two more times after the initial deployment, according to The State.
Charging documents said that the assault on Johnson was likely to produce great bodily injury of death.
The Attorney General’s Office announced on Dec. 14 that as a result of the indictments, the South Carolina governor had suspended Sheriff Lemon and would appoint an interim sheriff, The State reported.
Both Sheriff Lemon and former-Deputy Cook have been charged with felony assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature and misdemeanor misconduct in office.
Cook is no longer employed by the sheriff’s department or any other law enforcement agency, The State reported.
Sheriff Lemon has been the sheriff of Marlboro County since 2017.
Prior to becoming sheriff, he was chief deputy of Marlboro County for 12 years, according to The State.
If convicted, the aggravated felony assault and battery charge carries up to 20 years in prison and the misdemeanor misconduct in office charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Officials have not yet released more details about the investigation, but WPDE reported that three Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office investigators resigned from the agency last week.
A veteran investigator who resigned posted about it on social media.
“Today was my last day wearing this badge,” the now-former investigator wrote. “Today I chose my character over corruption. Today I chose my integrity over my income. Today I chose to walk away.”
“I tried to stand up to a historically oppressive and systemically racist institution and tried to be a change and tried to make a change,” the post continued. “As I walked home in tears, I accepted that I can’t bring the kind of change my heart desired. I don’t have any fight left in me.”
Concerned residents wanted to know if the resignations had anything to do with the charges against Sheriff Lemon but officials have not yet publicly connected the dots, WPDE reported.
Sheriff Lemon said the county had mutual aid agreements with Dillon and Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Offices and those agencies could provide investigators and or patrol deputies if Marlboro County needed them.